Who’s In It: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Russell Brand, Richard Griffiths, Teresa Palmer, Courteney Cox, Lucy Lawless
The Basics: Adam Sandler is a hotel handyman who realizes that the bedtime stories he tells to his niece and nephew, at least the ones that involve their collaborating efforts, are coming true. Then when greedy land developers want to destroy the local elementary school to make way for an even bigger resort, it takes the lowly fix-it guy and the magical dreams of children to—wait, I’m sorry, every kid in America just turned up their nose and walked away from that synopsis because there are more entertaining video games to be played.
What’s The Deal: There’s a way to make a kid’s movie starring Adam Sandler. And it should necessarily not involve sugary, save-the-day morals or Sandler becoming a romantic leading man who sweeps Keri Russell off her feet. It should be about boogers. (And, to be fair, there are boogers, just not enough of them.) I’m on board with Sandler acting like a goony 7-year-old, and clearly that’s why they wanted him for this, but watching him careen back and forth between his obnoxious-third-grader-making-doodie-jokes inner child and his ill-fitting, mushy-kisses-with-Felicity, grown-man persona is more about boredom and nausea than entertainment.
The Movie’s Worst Crime: It’s convoluted and boring. And that criticism comes straight from the mouths of the restless children around me at the press screening. Judging from the “Why did he do that?” questions and whining, “When is this over?” comments from the elementary-school-aged film critics sitting in front and back of me, I realized that what this world needs more of is stuff like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and less condescending crud.
In Their Defense They Might Have Been Going For A Cate Blanchett-as-Bob Dylan Moment: There must have been a strike happening where all the Native American actors in Hollywood refused to work or even audition for roles because that’s the only way to explain Sandler pal Rob Schneider in red-face makeup talking like Crazy Cat from F Troop.
Featuring The Wasted Talents Of: The insanely funny Russell Brand (the wild-haired, egocentric, British rock star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), who seems to be trying to make this less painful for the adults in the audience, and Lucy Lawless, whose main job in this movie is scowling and putting on wacky costumes for the acted-out bedtime story sequences.